New parents face SIX YEARS of sleepless nights: Mothers lose out on an average of 22-minutes of shut-eye a night even when their children are in school (and fathers miss out on 14 minutes)
- Worries and strains of parenthood may make it harder for them to switch off
- In the first three months since giving birth, mothers lost over an hour of sleep
- And breastfeeding means an average 14 minutes of additional lost sleep
Every new parent knows to expect sleepless nights with a screaming baby.
But the bad news is that six years later you will still be missing out on sleep.
First-time mothers are deprived of 22 minutes of sleep a night even when their child has started school, a study has found, with fathers losing 14 minutes.
Unfortunately older children still get up in the night, fall ill and have nightmares.
Even when they do not wake up, the worries and strains of parenthood can make it harder for adults to switch off and fall asleep.
New parents face six years of sleepless nights, research suggests (stock)
Researchers led by the University of Warwick found women are far more likely to be kept awake by their children than men.
Among more than 4,600 parents, mothers lost more than an hour of sleep in the three months after giving birth, while men sacrificed only 13 minutes of slumber.
Women were more sleep-deprived right up until their child turned six, as society still requires them to do more of the household duties and child-rearing.
Dr Sakari Lemola, of the University of Warwick, who led the study, said: ‘We did not expect to see people sleeping less even when their children were six years old.
‘Of course there are childcare demands, and children can become unwell at night. However, it is also likely that there are long-term effects of having children related to increased responsibilities as a parent.
‘Before having a child, one is only responsible for oneself and then one becomes responsible for a child and family.
‘While having children is a major source of joy for most parents, it can also bring worries, stress and strains which make it harder to sleep at night.’
‘TUMMY TIME’ HELPS BABIES SLEEP
Babies who spend a lot of time lying on their tummies get more shut eye, research suggested last November.
A study of 22 six-month-olds found those who have more ‘tummy time’ during the day are more active, which tires them out.
‘While we don’t have evidence yet that tummy time directly affects sleep, it increases physical activity,’ lead author Dr Janet Hauck, from New Michigan State University, said.
‘So, parents who feel their baby isn’t sleeping enough could promote tummy time during the day to boost their baby’s physical activity level.’
Researchers asked 2,541 women and 2,119 men who had children between 2008 and 2015 about their sleeping patterns.
In the first three months, when babies are at their ‘peak’ for crying, women lost 62 minutes of sleep a night compared to before pregnancy. Men lost 13 minutes on average during the same period.
Breastfeeding meant an average 14 minutes of additional lost sleep for mothers forced to get up for night feeds, but even without this, women still lost more rest than men.
Over the first four to six years with their first child, women missed out on 41 minutes of sleep, while men sacrificed just 14 minutes a night.
The study, published in the journal Sleep, states that in most industry countries ‘mothers, including working women, still have more household and child-rearing responsibilities and spend more time on these tasks compared with fathers’.
Dr Lemola said: ‘In our society it is still true that women are more often the primary caregivers. It is more often the mother who goes to look after the child when they are crying, who makes more sacrifices.
‘Of course there are couples where it is the other way round, but the reality is that they are still in the minority, and this may explain why women lose out on more sleep.’
Parents lose out on similar amounts of sleep regardless of their age, wealth or whether they own their own home, the study of German parents found.
The worst period for sleeplessness in parents is the first three months.
Insomniacs face health nightmare
Insomniacs are at greater hereditary risk of depression, anxiety and coronary heart disease, research suggests.
The largest ever genetic study of insomnia, involving 1.3million people, found that genes behind sleeplessness can also spark depressive symptoms.
A smaller study involving the University of Exeter concurred, while also finding insomniacs may face up to double the risk of coronary heart disease than the general population. The major study, led by Vrije University and Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience in Amsterdam, found insomnia and depression are pre-programmed via genetic brain variations. The smaller study of 450,000 people, led by Massachusetts General Hospital, found 57 genetic regions linked to insomnia.
They proved the condition raises the risk of depression, but not vice versa.